Updated: Sep 15
Autism. Just the word itself can send a select group of individuals into a tizzy; ranting and raving about it being an incurable, life-threatening, life-denying disease. It can be hard to remember that Autism is not a disease but a way of how the brain is wired; it can be even more challenging to remember that those who have and identify with Autism were born wired this way and will always be said way.
When Autism is brought into a conversation, the origination Autism Speaks sometimes finds itself in the conversation. Any *neurodivergent individual who was raised inside of this institution will let you know just how unhelpful, misinformed, and damaging this particular organization is. For example, in 2009, Autism Speaks released an ad titled “I Am Autism” that portrayed autism as a silent and sinister killer. The ad claimed that autism “works faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined” and ensures that marriages will fail, financial ruin will ensue, and that it will “rob [parents] of [their] children and dreams.” It doesn't stop there either; in the summer of 2019, it partnered with “Sesame Street” to promote a tool kit for parents of newly diagnosed children that, among other things, compare autism to leukemia and suggests that mourning is a normal response to learning of an autism diagnosis. There is an entire section of the tool kit that walks parents through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
While this may seem like an organization that is just "trying its best", it is important to remember the amount of Autistic and neurodivergent individuals it has hurt and suppressed with its dangerously *ableist, biased and misinformed approach. Autism is a spectrum that is not linear, but colorful and vibrant. No two individuals with either diagnosed or self-diagnosed Autism are going to have the responses or challenges.
Autism is not a disease and those who identify and experience it will also admit that it can come with its challenges. Inflammation emotionally, environmentally, and physically can have a major toll on all of us. CBD has started to pop up more in these circles and has proven to provide incredibly helpful results for those who need some relief. Unlike heavy sedation medication, CBD helps to provide with seizures, tics, intense outbursts, and even depression without sending the individual into a comatose state.
So, if not Autism Speaks, institutions, and heavy medication, then who, where, and how can you find the most up to date information and resources? The organizations ASAN , AWN, and individuals Laya Cottonwood and our own company, Blue Buddha and Firebird Touch Therapy have proven to be proficient in remembering and respecting that someone who is and identifies as Autistic is still a person and is deserving of respect, kindness, and understanding.
*Neurodiversity: the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders).
*neurodivergent: differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders); not neurotypical.
*neurotypical: not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.
*ableist: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people
Use Laya's suggestions: http://www.cultivatedcare.org/layahs-mission